After spring football, California head coach Sonny Dykes made known his preference for college football to have an early signing day, which was being bandied about by the NCAA at the time. While an early signing day for the class of 2016 hasn't been formally instituted, the Bears have gone about making one of their own, after a fashion, having now signed three members of their 2016 recruiting class to financial aid agreements -- not the same as a National Letter of Intent, but functionally serving as an early LOI.
"We've got some mid-year graduates, and it's a trend in college football these days," Dykes said. "The kids want to graduate and get in and try to compete. I think it needs to be the right kid. I think they've got to be mature kids, and I think all three of the kids we've signed are very mature kids, and they're the kind of kids that, it makes a lot of sense."
The third of those three -- Hattiesburg (Miss.) Oak Grove wide receiver Jordan Duncan -- put his name to paper on Thursday, following Wednesday's signing of Larkspur (Calif.) Redwood offensive tackle Jake Curhan, and last week's signing of quarterback Max Gilliam out of Thousand Oaks (Calif.).
"It takes pressure off kids, and helps save money and time, from a recruiting standpoint," Dykes said. "The way they’re talking about doing it, it’s kind of a short-term solution. I think they need to take a look at the entire recruiting calendar. It’s constructed based on how people recruited 15 years ago.
“When you go on the road in January, you start recruiting these guys that coming on official visits, and at the same time, you can also have contact period with the juniors. You sign those guys in March, and you’ve had a chance to get the juniors, as well, and you do it all at once. You maybe have official visits in June, and you have a signing day in the middle of July. The December signing period makes some sense, and that helps, but I think it’s just a start.”
All three players are slated to enroll early and compete in spring ball. Sources have said that there may be three to four more players signing early agreements still coming, so stay tuned.
From our Yancy Porter: "Duncan has been a mainstay for the Warriors offense the past two seasons. He has helped them to two Class 6A Final appearances and their school's first State Championship in the '13 season. When watching Jordan on film it is evident that he is just a football player. He doesn't wow you with his speed but he runs precise routes and has strong hands which allows him to catch the ball exceptionally well in traffic. He is the type of receiver that you can depend on when it's 3rd and 8 and you need the big catch for a first down. Duncan does have good footwork and can make you miss with his quick cuts."
“Jordan Duncan is an elite athlete,” Dykes said. “He’s got good size and speed as well as great ball skills. He also has a fantastic work ethic and is one of the most mature young people I’ve ever met. Jordan is very focused and knows what he wants. I think he is going to be a very productive football player and because he’s going to graduate early from high school and go through spring ball he will have a great chance to play as a freshman.”
Duncan is in his fourth season on the Oak Grove varsity squad and has compiled 171 receptions for 2,600 yards receiving and 26 touchdowns three games into his 2015 senior season. He also has four interceptions on defense. Jordan’s teams have a combined 35-9-1 record, winning a 6A Mississippi state title as a 2013 sophomore before finishing as runner-up as a 2014 junior.
Duncan is off to a solid start during his senior season with 21 receptions for 246 yards receiving and two touchdowns in his first three games to help Oak Grove to a 2-1 record.
Duncan led his squad to a 12-3-1 record and a spot in the 6A state finals as a junior when he had 71 receptions for 1,207 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns to earn first-team All-State honors. Duncan had six games of 100 yards or more receiving including career highs of 193 yards and three touchdowns on nine catches in a 36-35 win over Brandon in the 6A state playoff semifinals. He also had a career-high 13 receptions for 190 yards and one touchdown earlier in the season against Brandon. In addition, he had streaks during the year of four straight 100-yard receiving games and eight consecutive contests with at least one touchdown catch.
As a 2013 sophomore Jordan contributed 65 receptions for 926 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns for a team that was 14-1 overall and won its first state title while finishing the season as Mississippi’s top-ranked team and No. 25 nationally. His performances included the first two 100-yard receiving games of his career with a season-high 115 and a season-high-tying two touchdown catches against Pearl River Central as well as 111 on a season-high eight catches vs. Hattiesburg. He also added two interceptions on defense.
Jordan made 14 catches for 221 yards receiving as a 2012 freshman while adding two interceptions, 11 tackles and 1.0 tackle for loss on defense for a team that finished 7-4 overall.